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A barrel or cask is a hollow cylindrical container with a bulging center, longer than it is wide. They were originally made of wooden staves and bound by wood or metal hoops.
Traditionally, the barrel was also a standard size of measure referring to a set capacity or weight of a given commodity. For example, in the UK a barrel of beer refers to a quantity of 36 imperial gallons (160 L; 43 US gal). Wine was shipped in barrels of 119 litres (31 US gal; 26 imp gal). Barrel has also come into use as a generic term for a wooden cask of any size.
Modern wooden barrels for wine-making are either made of French common oak (Quercus robur) and white oak (Quercus petraea) or from American white oak (Quercus alba) and typically have standard sizes: "Bordeaux type" 225 litres (59 US gal; 49 imp gal), "Burgundy type" 228 litres (60 US gal; 50 imp gal) and "Cognac type" 300 litres (79 US gal; 66 imp gal). Modern barrels and casks can also be made of aluminum, stainless steel, and different types of plastic, such as HDPE.
Someone who makes barrels is called a "barrel maker" or cooper. Barrels are only one type of cooperage. Other types include, but are not limited to, the making of buckets, vats, tubs, butter churns, hogsheads, firkins, kegs, kilderkins, tierces, rundlets, puncheons, pipes, tuns, butts, pins, troughs and breakers.
Barrels have a variety of uses, including storage of liquids such as water and oil, fermenting wine, arrack, and sake, and maturing beverages such as wine, cognac, armagnac, sherry, port, whiskey, and beer. Other commodities once stored in wooden casks include gunpowder, meat, fish, paint, nails and tallow. Early casks were bound with wooden hoops and in the 19th century these were gradually replaced by metal hoops that were stronger, more durable and took up less space. The term barrel can also refer to roughly cylindrical containers made of modern materials like plastic or steel.

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  1. Lennie

    Laser hardening barrels

    Following is from an email I received an email from Volquartsen. For example, it would be easy to not send our barrels out for laser hardening. It's a process that many customers aren't aware it's being done. It's tough to tell by looking at the barrel whether or not it's been laser hardened...
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